NORTH ASTON DAIRY
North Aston Dairy supplies organic milk to surrounding villages and into Oxford since 2006, when the first three cows were bought and milked in a refurbished barn. The dairy now has 15 Ayrshire milking cows and several more young stock, a growing annual turnover which reached £110,000 in April 2018 and also supplies cream, ice cream, yoghurt, rose veal and beef from retired milking cows. The farm operates on 37 acres, and at this scale bucks the trend for small dairies, many of which are unprofitable with triple the herd size due to the low prices they receive from supermarket contracts. By selling high quality milk direct to customers it is able to finance two full-time and one part-time income, with over half the annual income able to support employment.
The delivery round now takes in 250 customers, and an additional 50 regulars are serviced at the weekly farmers’ market stall in Oxford.Milk is supplied in returnable glass bottles, some of which are still in circulation after ten years.
The cows are milked 4 abreast and have a predominantly grass-based diet. They have long, productive lives, continuing in milk until 14 or 15 years old, unlike average dairy cows who have a working life of five or six years. Male calves are killed to produce delicious rose veal after a diet of milk and grass/hay/silage at 6-9 months. Ayrshire female calves are brought up to come into the milking herd at around 36 months.Fertility is managed purely by returning composted cow manure to the pastures, yet the productivity of the land increases year on year.Hence energy intensive nitrate fertilisers are avoided and the risk of nitrate run-off from slurry is reduced.